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Jeremiah’s Celibacy and Message


The word of the L ord came to me: 2You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. 3For thus says the L ord concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bear them and the fathers who beget them in this land: 4They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried; they shall become like dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall become food for the birds of the air and for the wild animals of the earth.

5 For thus says the L ord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament, or bemoan them; for I have taken away my peace from this people, says the L ord, my steadfast love and mercy. 6Both great and small shall die in this land; they shall not be buried, and no one shall lament for them; there shall be no gashing, no shaving of the head for them. 7No one shall break bread for the mourner, to offer comfort for the dead; nor shall anyone give them the cup of consolation to drink for their fathers or their mothers. 8You shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. 9For thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to banish from this place, in your days and before your eyes, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.

10 And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, “Why has the L ord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the L ord our God?” 11then you shall say to them: It is because your ancestors have forsaken me, says the L ord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law; 12and because you have behaved worse than your ancestors, for here you are, every one of you, following your stubborn evil will, refusing to listen to me. 13Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.

God Will Restore Israel

14 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the L ord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the L ord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” 15but “As the L ord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their ancestors.

16 I am now sending for many fishermen, says the L ord, and they shall catch them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. 17For my eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my presence, nor is their iniquity concealed from my sight. 18And I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.



O L ord, my strength and my stronghold,

my refuge in the day of trouble,

to you shall the nations come

from the ends of the earth and say:

Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies,

worthless things in which there is no profit.


Can mortals make for themselves gods?

Such are no gods!


21 “Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the L ord.”


The Prophet now shews that the grievous calamity of which he had spoken would be a just reward for the wickedness of the people; for we know that the prophets were endued with the Spirit of God not merely that they might foretell things to come — for that would have been very jejune; but a doctrine was connected with their predictions. Hence the prophets not only foretold what God would do, but at the same time added the causes. There is then now added a doctrine as a seasoning to the prophecy; for the Prophet says that the destructiorl of the Jews was at hand, because they had long greatly provoked the wrath of God. As there is no end to the evasions of hypocrites, according to what we observed yesterday, God here reminds them of his judgment, as though he had said, “This one thing is sufficient, he knows their iniquities, and he is a fit judge; so they contend in vain, and try in vain, to excuse or to extenuate their fault.”

Hence he says that the eyes of God were on all their ways: and he mentions all their ways, because they had not offended only once, or in one way, but they had added sins to sins. Nor are they hid, he says: the Prophet presses the matter on their attention; for had he allowed their false pretences, they would have made no end of excuses. He therefore says that their ways were not hid, nor their iniquities concealed from the eyes of God. Now follows a confirmation —

Jeremiah introduces here nothing new, but proceeds with the subject we observed in the last verse, — that God would not deal with so much severity with the Jews, because extreme rigor was pleasing to him, or because he had forgotten his own nature or the covenant which he had made with Abraham, but because the Jews had become extremely obstinate in their wickedness. As, then, he had said that the eyes of God were on all their ways, so now he adds that he would recompense them as they deserved.

But every word ought to be considered: He says ראשונה rashune, which I render “From the beginning.” Some render it more obscurely, “at first,” — I will first recompense them. The word means formerly, and refers to time. The Prophet then, I have no doubt, means what I have already referred to, — that God would punish the fathers and their children, and would thus gather into one mass their old iniquities. We have quoted from the law that God would recompense unto the bosom of children the sins of their fathers; and we have also quoted that declaration of Christ,

“Come upon you shall righteous blood from Abel to Zachariah, the son of Barachiah.” (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51)

The Prophet now repeats the same thing, — that God, in allotting to the Jews their reward, would collect together as it were all the iniquities which had been as it were long buried, so that he would include the fathers and their children in one bundle, and gather together all their sins, in order that he might consume them as it were in one heap. In this way I explain the term “From the beginning.” 166166     The Septuagint omit this word, and give this rendering, “And I will recompense their twofold iniquities,” etc., so does the Vulgate, only it retains this word, and renders it “first.” But the Hebrew will not admit the connection of “two-fold” with “iniquities.”
   Venema gives the best exposition of this passage, from Jeremiah 16:14 to the end, he considers it a prophecy of the restoration of the people from Babylon. The “fishers” and “the hunters,” in Jeremiah 16:16, he regards as the indibviduals employed by God to gather them from the countries to which they had been dispersed, suych as Zerubbabel, Joshuah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. He connects this verse more especially with the latter part of Jeremiah 16:17. Having stated that their ways would not be hid from God in their dispersion, the Prophet refers to their previous iniquity as having not been hid from them, and then says in God’s name, “And I will first recompense doubly their iniquity,” etc., that is before I restore them. These two verses may be thus rendered, the first line being connected with the previous verse, —

   17. For mine eyes shall be on all their ways. Concealed have they not been from me, Nor hid has been their iniquity from my eyes;

   18. And I will first doubly recompense Their iniquity and their sin, Because they have polluted my land With the vileness of their detestable things, And with their abominations have fined mine inheritance.

   As the previous verse is in the future tense, so the first line in Jeremiah 16:17. The “detestable things” were their idols. The version of the Septuagint is, “with the dead bodies (θνησιμαίοις) of their abominations;” of the Vulgate, “with the carrions (morticinis) of their idols;” and of the Syriac, “with the sacrifices of their idols.” Blayney’s rendering is, “by the vileness of their odious practices.” The word “carcases” is derived from the Targum. Idolatrous practices are evidently the things referred to. — Ed

He then adds, The double of their iniquities and their sins The Prophet does not mean that there would be an excess of severity, as though God would not rightly consider what men deserved; but “double” signifies a just and complete measure, according to what is said in Isaiah 40:2,

“The Lord hath recompensed double for all her sins;”

that is, sufficiently and more, (satis superque) as the Latins say. There God assumes the character of a father, and, according to his great kindness, says that the Jews had been more than sufficiently punished. So also in this place, in speaking of punishment, he calls that double, not what would exceed the limits of justice, but because God would shew himself differently to them from what he had done before, when he patiently bore with them; as though he had said, “I will to the utmost punish them; for there will be no remission, no lenity,no mercy.” We hence see that what is here designed is only extreme rigor, which yet was just and right; for had God punished a hundred times more severely even those who seemed to have sinned lightly, his justice could not have been questioned as though he had acted cruelly. Since, the Jews, then, had in so many ways, and for so long a time, and so grievously sinned, God could not have been thought too severe, when he rendered to them their reward; and he calls it double because he omitted nothing in order to carry it to the utmost severity. Probably he alludes also to the enemies as being ministers of his vengeance, whose cruelty would be more atrocious than the Jews thought, who imagined some slight remedies for slight sins, as we say, Il n’y faudra plus retourner, or, tote outre.

He mentions sins and iniquities, for Jeremiah had introduced them before as speaking thus, “What is our iniquity? and what is our sin?” Though they could not wholly exculpate themselves, they yet continued to allege some pretences, that they might not appear to be altogether wicked. But here God declares that they were wholly wicked and ungodly; and he adds a confirmation, that they had polluted the land with the carcases of their abominations The Prophet mentions a particular thing, for had he spoken generally, the Jews would have raised a clamor and said, that they were not conscious of being so wicked. That he might then bring the matter home to them, he shews as it were by the finger that their sin was by no means excusable, for they had polluted the land of God with their superstitions; they have polluted, he says, my land He exaggerates their crime by saying, that they polluted the holy land. The earth indeed is God’s and its fullness. (Psalm 24:1) Hence it might be said justly of the whole world, that the land of God is polluted when men act on it an ungodly part. But here God distinguishes Canaan from other countries, because it was dedicated as it were to his name. As God then had set apart that land for himself, that he might be there worshipped, he says, they have polluted my land

And he adds, With the carcases of their abominations It is probable that he calls their sacrifices carcases. For though in appearance their superstitions bore a likeness to the true and lawful worship of God, yet we know that the sacrifices which God had commanded were seasoned by his word as with salt; they were therefore of good odor and fragrance before God. As to the sacrifices offered to idols, they were foetid carcases, they were mere rottenness, yet the ceremony was altogether alike. But God does not regard the external form, for obedience is better before him than all sacrifices. (1 Samuel 15:22) We hence see that there is to be understood a contrast between the carcases and the sweet odor which lawful sacrifices possessed. For as sacrifices, rightly offered according to the rule of the law, pleased God and were said to be of sweet savor so the victims superstitiously offered having no command of God in their favor, were called filthy carcases.

And he says further, With their defilements have they filled mine inheritance The land of Canaan is called the inheritance of God in the same sense in which the land is before called his land. But in this second clause something more is expressed, as it is the usual manner of Scripture to amplify. It was indeed a grievous thing that the land dedicated to God should be polluted; but when he says, This is mine inheritance, that is, the, land which I have chosen to dwell in with my people, that it might be to me as it were a kind of an earthly habitation, and that this land was fined with defilements, it was a thing altogether intolerable. We now then see that the Jews were so bridled and checked that they in vain attempted to escape, or thought to gain anything by evasions, for their impiety was intolerable and deserved to be most severely punished by God. I will not proceed further, for it is a new discourse.

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